The South Carolina Exposition and Protest was published by the vice president John C. Calhoun in response to the Tariff of Abominations, which favored the North economy at the expense of the South.


The Tariff of Abominations placed nearly 50% of taxes on foreign manufactured goods, which was disadvantageous for the South for two main reasons. First, the South was mostly agricultural and had to import many products. Second, its economy depended on cotton export to Britain, and the Tariff would cause other countries to increase taxes as well.

On the contrary, for the North, the Tariff implied benefits because it had a more developed industry and, therefore, could get more money from the business. This imbalance strengthened tension between the North and the South.

That is why, John C. Calhoun, the vice president under John Quincy Adams, analyzed the situation and remediated the system’s weaknesses. In 1828 he wrote the South Carolina Exposition and Protest and reinforced the principle of Nullification, which is the right of each state to ignore, or nullify, any federal law.

Calhoun highlighted the dependence of the federal government on the states. Besides, he insisted that the Tariff violated the constitution and, therefore, can be nullified. However, he did not manage to announce his ideas aloud because of his position in the government. Nevertheless, the South accepted and supported the principle of nullification.

Eventually, the principle of Nullification evolved in the Nullification crisis. South Carolina said it would secede the states if they could not nullify the Tariff. President Jackson threatened the state that he would use military power if it did not obey, and South Carolina had to give up.